A common perception with solar technologies is that they are practical only in sunny regions of the country. The sun is a source of clean and plentiful energy, but for regions of the country that experience frequent cloud cover, solar energy is typically not considered a worthwhile endeavor. In addition to the problem of limited sunshine, solar energy is often deemed to be too expensive for the average homeowner, particularly without significant government incentives. For solar technology to be adopted on a broad scale, it must make practical sense to the homeowner, not just economically, but also for an improved quality of life. Otherwise, solar technology in home construction will be limited to those who are especially motivated and can afford it.
Passive solar, in particular, is often dismissed as a relic of the 1970’s. The excessive amounts of glass can lead to too much heat loss or heat gain, and the home may experience wide temperature swings, making it uncomfortable. While the complaints do have merit, they are often a result of a poor design rather than an inherit failure of passive solar systems.
This thesis project attempts to demonstrate that passive solar technology can be effective in any region, even the gloomy climate of Western New York, and that it can be incorporated into an existing home cost-effectively. The project analyzed an existing single-family home and a rehabilitation proposal was developed that met the needs of the clients and incorporated passive solar technologies. A number of passive solar features were reviewed, and it was learned that the benefits of a passive solar feature often go beyond its mere cost-effectiveness. Intangibles, such as daylighting, a sense of place, plant growth, and improved market-value, contribute to the assessment of a passive solar feature.
Department, Program, or Center
Dennis A. Andrejko
Fugate, James Russell, "A Passive Solar Retrofit in a Gloomy Climate" (2018). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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